It is interesting to me that a conversation with students about certain professors in other major programs bad-mouthing the ethics of advertising and public relations coincided with news of two local West Michigan firms that earned awards not only for their work, but the fact that it exemplifies socially conscious communications work.
In my spring Fundamentals of Public Relations course, during a discussion of ethics in public relations, several students complained that professors in other courses labeled PR or advertising as nothing short of evil. While it is good to have students consider the negative consequences of some in the field, it is also paradoxically unethical for someone from outside the field to make such a broad brush stereotype declaration about an occupation. It's what scholars call a synecdoche, in which a part (or one bad example, often of someone not even in PR) serves as representative of the whole profession.
So I was delighted to learn of not one, but two West Michigan firms recently lauded for their ethical and socially aware practice.
First, the Image Shoppe became the first marketing firm in Michigan to be certified as a Benefit Corporation, also called a B Corporation. Basically, a B Corporation is one that meets rigorous standards we in PR call the "triple bottom line" of sustainability, which includes positive impact on the "3 Es"--economic, equity, and environment (some also use the "3 Ps" of profit, place, people). Learn more about this award in this RapidGrowth article.
Then just last week, Lambert, Edwards and Associates earned a Silver Stevie Award in the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Program of the Year category. The award is part of the annual American Business Awards. LEA won the award for its 10,000 Scoop Challenge cause marketing program that was created for Denali Flavors, the developers of the legendary Moose Tracks® ice cream. The campaign combined grassroots networking, experiential marketing, media/celebrity engagement, media relations and product sampling into one event. Attendees are encouraged to help eat ice cream for a cause, with every scoop eaten, Denali donates $1 to the local chapter of The Salvation Army, with the goal of raising $10,000 in a four-hour window.
We celebrate creativity and meeting business objectives in our field, and we laud local examples of excellence. It's good to know that we have local firms who are also leaders in terms of not just doing good work, but doing work that does good.